Hypnotherapy and psychotherapy are often talked about as separate treatment approaches. But did you know that they are actually complementary?
Historically, hypnosis was used by psychiatrists in treatment. Hypnotherapy and hypnosis have now become part of a new wave of alternative approaches to healing in the last 20-30 years; increasingly popular in the main stream. It is practiced by licensed mental health professionals and non-licensed trained hypnotherapists or hypnotists.
Hypnotherapy can be an adjunctive modality used by therapists like EMDR or Somatic Experiencing. It is a specialty and requires additional training. The practitioner will evaluate the presenting issues and determine if hypnotherapy is indicated in treatment.
So what does that mean for the client?
In any psychotherapy it is always a great idea to ask questions! If you’re curious about hypnotherapy or not sure about what it is really is (check out my blog about common myths about hypnotherapy) – ask and your clinician should thoroughly answer your questions.
If you and your clinician determine that hypnotherapy is a good fit for you, then goals are discussed before beginning the process. Outside of specific goals that are set with your clinician, hypnotherapy can support building resilience, establishing a deeper connection with Self and decreasing the strength of the inner critic.
As a certified clinical hypnotherapist with 350+ hours of training and 3 years in practice, I have found hypnotherapy to greatly benefit the work that clients do in psychotherapy. It offers a strong tool outside of the therapy room and clients report feeling relaxed at the end of session, even when painful emotions have been experienced. Hypnotherapy can empower those who experience it as it provides a means to connect with one’s own inner wisdom and strength.
Before we get into the common misconceptions about hypnotherapy that I hear most often in my practice, let’s talk about what hypnotherapy is.
I find it helpful to talk about the three basic types of hypnosis/hypnotherapy.
The therapist and client interact together, much like in psychotherapy, while the client is in a relaxed state. It is a collaborative process of exploring the unconscious mind to heal old wounding, alter old, outdated beliefs and uncover and understand obstacles.
The therapist leads the client in a process while in a deep trance state. This allows the client to be open to shifts and suggestions that were agreed upon before the start of the session. Some common processes would be smoking cessation or sleep treatment.
This type of hypnosis is entirely for entertainment purposes. You might have seen advertisements in Las Vegas or on college campuses. Volunteers are put into a relaxed state through different techniques and the hypnotist suggests that they perform entertaining behaviors.
What is important in all of these forms is that you always have choice.
All hypnosis is self-hypnosis.
Now onto those misconceptions…
You will use a pocket watch to get me into trance.
This is something you might see in the media, but I don’t utilize pocket watches. I use forms of progressive relaxation to help my clients slowly enter a trance state – either deep or light depending on what the individual needs. It is similar to a body scan or guided meditation.
I will have no control over what I say or do.
The client is actually the one in control! The metaphor I like to use is that we are on a road trip together, you’re driving and I have the map. I can suggest that you turn right, but ultimately you decide which direction we turn. I work with the client to support the exploration to get the most out of what you experience.
I will share something with you that I’m not ready to.
Trance allows for a deeper connection to self without the outside noise and interference. The client will have the same ability to choose what they say and what they keep to themselves. It is beneficial to share what is being experienced, but it doesn’t mean that they need to share what does not feel right to share in that moment.
I won’t remember what we talked about or my experience.
Clients remember what they need to remember. Sometimes that is the entire experience and sometimes it is highlights. I do take notes of the session for future work, but have faith that you will get what you need out of the process.
Hypnotherapy will cure me instantly.
It is absolutely understandable that we all want relief from our suffering. Hypnotherapy can offer accelerated results or shifts, however, it is not an instant cure. Just like psychotherapy what is changing in your inner world takes time, consistent effort and patience to be reflected in your outer world. Hypnotherapy offers you the ability to do this inner work in a deeper, relaxed state by bypassing your conscious mind.
I hope this helped create transparency about what hypnotherapy is and how it may be helpful on the path to greater connection to Self, healing and exploration. Just like many therapeutic tools hypnotherapy can help create understanding, self-acceptance and build resilience.